Caribbean pols join in tribute to veterans

Caribbean American New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Office of Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

Several Caribbean American legislators on Wednesday joined the nation in paying tribute to veterans on Veterans Day.

“Happy Veterans Day to our city and nation,” said New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, son of Grenadian immigrants. “As the pandemic prevents us from mass gatherings as a show of support or appreciation, we must be sure to convey our respect and gratitude in our personal interactions and, perhaps, most importantly, in our policies.

“We do this not as a tacit approval of war and violence but to pay homage to those who answered their country’s call to service; many of whom are disrespected or abandoned by our government when they return home,” he added.

“Too many veterans see their service met by a government not fulfilling their end of the contract,” Williams continued. “This is an injustice not confined to any one party or administration, and one we must correct moving forward as we transition into new national leadership.

“I stand in appreciation of all, past and present, who have chosen to serve our nation in uniform, including within my own family and staff,” he said.

Williams said Veterans Day takes its origin from Armistice Day, born from a celebration of peace.

“May we always work toward achieving that peace at home and abroad!” he said.

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte. Office of Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte

Brooklyn Democratic Party chair, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, noted that there are over 50,000 veterans in Brooklyn.

“They selflessly served our country to protect our democracy, and we must continue to give back to them by ensuring that veterans have robust employment opportunities and access to housing, health care and education,” added the representative for the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn. “I thank every veteran for their service.”

New York City Councilwoman Farah N. Louis, also the daughter of Haitian immigrants, said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to our former servicemembers and their families who made tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedoms.

“Without their contributions, the American Dream and spirit would cease to exist,” said the representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn. “Despite fulfilling their commitments in the US or abroad, many veterans continue to serve our community – particularly during this pandemic.

“They are our first responders, nurses and doctors, small business owners, educators, sanitation and transportation workers,” Louis added. “Regardless of their uniform, it is their courage, strength and determination that are admirable.

Haitian-American Councilwoman Farah N. Louis. Office of Councilwoman Farah N. Louis

“After caring for our families, we must also ensure that our veterans receive the best care,” she continued, stating that, through the City’s Department of Veterans Affairs, “we are streamlining access to healthcare, housing, employment, food, assistance with VA (Veteran Administration) claims and benefits.”

Additionally, Louis said Mission: VetCheck is an initiative “that will help us end social isolation by creating a veterans support network.

“This is how we show our appreciation,” she said. “District 45, the City and State of New York would not be where it is today without our distinguished honorees – the valiant veterans. Thank you for your service, both past and present!”

For Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Veterans Day is “an important moment to reflect on those who put their lives on the line for our country, some of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms.

“More than 54,000 veterans call Brooklyn home, and so many of them have continued to serve our communities far beyond their military service, including amid these challenging times,” he said.

Adams said it is not enough to simply thank our veterans.

“We must demonstrate, in tangible ways, that we appreciate the magnitude of their contributions,” he said. “That includes providing them with excellent health care, stable and affordable housing, as well as high-quality opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship.

“May this be a happy and meaningful observance for veterans in our borough and beyond, and may we all know peace and prosperity in the year to come!” Adams added.

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